Friday, May 13, 2016
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In This Issue
Fraud in the News
The following are current news articles about health care and fraud issues.

Health Care Fraud:

Consumer Fraud:

Please share this Fraud Alert with colleagues, consumers, or other professionals in your area. If you have any questions about the Illinois SMP program, or to receive these Fraud Alerts directly, please contact Jason Echols, Healthcare Consumer Protection Coordinator at AgeOptions.
This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MP0216, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy. 

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Dear SMP Readers, 


This week's Fraud Alert warns about dialing the wrong number for Medicare, trying to get free drugs from TV, and a guilty plea from a southern Illinois chiropractor. 


Have a great weekend!

Did I Dial 1-800-MEDICARE?

The Illinois SMP often encourages people on Medicare to call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) if they need to know more about their benefits or have questions about claims. But what happens if you misdial the number?

This week, the North Dakota SMP shared a story with us where one beneficiary thought that he was calling 1-800-MEDICARE, but instead, he was asked if he would like to complete a survey. When he pushed a button to say "yes," he got an agent who offered him a "free" medical alert system. The agent then asked for the man's Medicare number and bank account number. Medicare does not offer free equipment in exchange for personal information. We believe that this man may have misdialed at least one number. 

When you misdial a friend's number, you usually get someone politely telling you that you have the wrong number. With Medicare though, a lot of companies have numbers that are similar to 1-800-MEDICARE and often what those companies are offering is related to health care, including medical alert systems or supplement insurance. If you call 1-800-MEDICARE and someone is offering you something for free or tries to sell you something, you have dialed the wrong number.

When you call 1-800-MEDICARE, be careful to enter the correct number which is 1-800-633-4227. 

If  you give personal information to someone other than Medicare, you can call the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions (800)699-9043.

The above graphic shows how 1-800-MEDICARE is spelled on a dial pad. You don't need to dial the finale "E" but it will not hurt either.
Free Medicine "As Seen on TV"

Recently, a Medicare beneficiary in the Carterville, IL area saw a television commercial advertising "free" prescription medication. He called the number and reached an automated answering system that asked for his name, address, and Social Security number and told him that someone would be in touch with him. After giving his information, he thought the call seemed strange.

Many people struggle to pay the high costs of their medications, which makes it very tempting to call a number on TV for free or low cost prescription drugs. These companies may offer discount cards for people with no insurance, but if you have a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, these discount cards are often useless. 

Luckily, there may be help if you are struggling to pay for your drugs. Call your local area agency on aging to find local organizations that may be able to screen you for benefits or prescription drug assistance programs. Find your local area agency on aging at
Granite City Chiropractor Pleads Guilty to Fraud

This week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that a chiropractor in southern Illinois pled guilty to health care fraud charges. She was accused of billing approximately $500,000 in false claims to several health care benefit plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. Her sentencing is scheduled for August. Read more about this case in this DOJ press release "Granite City Chiropractor Pleads Guilty To Healthcare Fraud And Money Laundering."

AgeOptions Ideogram


Jason B. Echols, MSW,
Health Care Consumer Protection Coordinator
1048 Lake Street, Suite 300
Oak Park, IL 60301
phone (708)383-0258 fax (708)524-0870


AgeOptions, the Area Agency on Aging of Suburban Cook County, is committed to improving the quality of life and maintaining the dignity of older adults and those who care about them - through leadership and support, community partnerships, comprehensive services, accurate information and powerful advocacy.

Fraud Alerts contain information about current scams taking place in Illinois, announcements and updates about programs or services related to health care and/or fraud protection, and links to news articles about health care and fraud topics. Please forward any recommendations or announcements that you would like to be included in a future Fraud Alert to